Queensland Minister for Main Roads and Ports Mark Bailey
Townsville Steps Up Oil Spill Readiness
Victor P Taffa
A multi-agency training exercise will take place in Townsville over the next two days (28-29 November) to heighten readiness for a pollution incident.
The exercise is a chance for oil spill responders to hone their skills under a nationally-agreed oil response plan.
Main Roads and Ports Minister Mark Bailey said Port of Townsville would take part in the drill, with the help of specialist training by Maritime Safety Queensland.
“Maritime Safety Queensland has responsibility for implementing training in our home state as part of a national plan to combat any oil spill incidents which may occur on our coastline.” Mr. Bailey said.
“It is particularly important our ports and waterways have suitably trained responders and the right equipment to deal with these incidents.”
“While the exercise is based in Townsville, the aim is also to create a skilled pool of responders ready, if required, to help out at incidents anywhere in Australia.”
Mr. Bailey said the training exercise would be centred on a hypothetical oil spill from a ship.
“Maritime Safety Queensland has a critical role as primary responder in the event of an oil spill.” Mr. Bailey said.
“While they work tirelessly to provide essential maritime services such as aids to navigation and vessel traffic services to minimise the risk of marine pollution, it is also important to be prepared for incidents.”
“About 60 people from Transport and Main Roads, Environment and Heritage, Parks and Wildlife, Port of Townsville, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and local government will take part in the two-day exercise.”
“While many of the participants are refreshing their skills, there will be several people having their first run-through of a major oil spill response exercise.” Mr. Bailey said.
“Many personnel have also had real-life experience responding to recent oil spill incidents off Cape Upstart last year and Fraser Island this August.”
“Both incidents were resolved promptly and professionally demonstrating the practical benefit of proper training and constant readiness.” Mr. Bailey said.
Minister for Environment Steven Miles said the exercise would include real-time use of shoreline assessment teams, roll-out of floating booms to contain the imaginary spill and setting up an oiled wildlife decontamination site.
“The inclusion of a wildlife component by Environment and Heritage officers emphasises the importance of not only returning the coastline to pristine condition but also ensuring its vulnerable inhabitants are properly treated.” Dr. Miles said.
“We’re fortunate enough to have at our fingertips the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most valuable World Heritage listed nature assets.”
“It is important to be prepared for incidents so we can do all we can to protect the Reef.” Dr. Miles said.